Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review

The best part of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor gets even better in the sequel, Shadow of War. The first game’s dynamic “Nemesis” AI system had you fighting against an endless succession of named enemies who taunted you, remembered your exploits, and grew stronger on the backs of their victories over you. What would have been a competent but forgettable game in the open-world mold suddenly became a vehicle for an endless string of personalized run-ins with a bunch of grumpy orcs who seemed to hate you more every time they fought you, and never ran out of venomous new ways to let you know it. In Shadow of War, the Nemesis framework has been so thoroughly expanded that new twists on orc tactics, behaviors, and attitudes were still surprising me after dozens of hours, and the new game gives you even more exciting, hilarious, fun stories about your wild experiences to swap with other players than the first one. It took me half a dozen hours just to move on from the prologue area; I couldn’t stop hunting down particular orcs who had wronged me, or just butting into the business they were conducting on their own.